The realms of art and engineering intersect in thought-provoking ways at Alta Vista. Middle schoolers recently learned about artist Michael Rakowitz’s paraSITE project. Rakowitz creates temporary and transportable shelters for the homeless leveraging the outtake duct of a building’s heating and ventilation system. These functional pieces of art are also a form of social protest against the growing homeless problem in our cities.
In her Design for the Future class, teacher Katherine Stark challenged the middle school students to create an inflatable sculpture with nothing more than garbage bags, tape and a box fan. Working in small groups, students were then asked to look for practical application within our school. They created inflatable study hall rooms and a shade structure for their picnic tables that were both practical and attractive. Students worked in classrooms, hallways taking over the top floor of the building; some moved their projects outdoors.
This creative group project had students thinking differently about three dimensional space and material resources, while inventing some beautifully useful structures.